By Mallory Inselberg
On February 15th, Hunter “Patch” Adams, a physician, physical and mental healer, humorous clown, and most importantly, a friend to everyone, made an appearance at Cranford High School to talk with the University Program, Science Academy students, and Freshman Seminar students on his unconventional and tactical approach to tending the sick. Throughout his career, which began at age 18, Patch has relied on humor and laughter to heal to the ill. He employs play in everyday treatment so his patients can obtain health in all aspects of their lives because physical health alone cannot help a patient. His belief and faith in the connection between humans and their environment enables him to pinpoint the proper “treatment” an individual needs; whether it be an intensive effort to lower a fever, an ear to listen, shoulder to cry on, or simply a presence to remind the patients that they are not alone in their suffering.
Patch and his clan of clowns own a 310 acre lot in West Virginia which he envisions one day could become the site of his Gesundheit Institute, a free full scale hospital that focuses on the community working together to help heal the sick without the traditional use of medication and prescriptions, but instead, with compassion and friendship. Patch travels the world with about two dozen colleagues, pre-med, and medical students. They can be found “clowning” around in the most impoverished parts of the world. The purpose is to bring cheer and pure joy to those who are sick and less fortunate.
This experience was organized by Cranford School District Superintendent Dr. Gayle Carrick and brought to the student body by Mrs. Lisa Hayeck, the Supervisor of Science. The objective of this experience was meant to engage her students in an active learning environment. This was an opportunity and experience that made an impact on much of the student body. This I know from my own personal experience. “As Senior at Cranford High School, I was very impacted by the whole experience. It is one thing to consider meeting such an inspirational person in theory, but an entirely other thing when it comes to reality. I was moved to tears during his presentation, just listening to his individual impact he has had on others. Those who are sick should be given the opportunity to be recognized, which is exactly what he does. This was an experience I am never going to forget for the rest of my life.”
When asked of the experience, Mrs. Hayeck reported, “We saw this as a great opportunity to tie together medicine and compassion for others. I feel it was a valuable learning experience for our students and many of them are passionate about helping Patch raise money for the Gesundheit Institute.” Mr. Dionisio, Cranford High School Principal, stated, “Our students were able to hear from Patch Adams today and learn about how he has dedicated his life to helping others. It is our hope that hearing about such amazing experiences will inspire our students to commit themselves to this cause and motivate those interested in public health and medicine to pursue their lifelong passion.”